Jan Amos KOMENSKÝ - life, work, legacy


Kancionál, to jest Kniha žalmů a písní duchovních k chvále Boží a spasitedlnému věřících vzdělání i dávno prvé i v nově teď jazykem českým složených a nyní spolu vydaných


A Hymnal, that is, a Book of psalms and spiritual songs in praise of God and education of the redeemable faithful, given for the first time and newly compiled in the Czech language and now published together


Origin of the work:
  1633 – 1659

  1659 Amsterdam

1952 Prague, Jan Amos Komenský, Duchovní písně. Prepared for publication by A. Škarka

1974 Prague, Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol. VII, Foreword to the Hymnal


After preliminary studies of the need for new improvements of words and verses, and the refreshing of the content of the existing hymnal, Comenius came forward with a new edition of this songbook. In the introduction he recalls the importance of song. In particular, he ascribes an important place in the history of spiritual songs to those of the Old Testament King David. Song was brought into the Christian Church by the Apostles. Later, Comenius speaks of the diverse modes and important roles that spiritual songs had among the ancient Czechs, and of their renewal in the Reformation. He explains why several older songs were set aside and some newer ones added, why some where shortened or their content improved, and warns that he has taken into consideration the perfection of the Hymnal, corrected rhymes and concerned himself with linguistic rhythm, at least in the new songs. Every song is preceded by its content. The first strophe of every song is set below the notes of its tune. Comenius understood spiritual songs to be works of art, and also realised this notion: Comenius’ mastery is most notable in the new translations of German and Polish songs into Czech. Comenius himself is not named either in the title or the preface.


For further study, see also:

A. Škarka, foreword, in: Jan Amos Komenský, Duchovní písně. Prague 1952

Vybrané spisy J. A. Komenského, vol. VII.Prague 1974, pp70-76

J. V. Novák & J. Hendrich, Jan Amos Komenský, jeho život a spisy. Prague 1932, pp565-567

Olga Settari, Předmluva, in: Jan Amos Komenský, Kancionál. Prague  1992, pp5-23

Jan Kumpera, J. A. Komenský, poutník na rozhraní věků. Prague & Ostrava 1992, pp251-252




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